Re: Traditional Xtianity teaches

From: John Burgeson (
Date: Thu Oct 10 2002 - 16:25:50 EDT

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    Terry wrote: "I'd like to think that this was all
    tongue-in-cheek (we'll abbreviate that TICIH--"tongue in cheek, I
    hope"). ..."

    It was not. Neither was it meant as a blanket indictment.

    "To say what Gordon Brown said slightly differently, right-wing
    politics must be separated from right-wing theology. Their overlap
    sociologically shouldn't be interpreted to mean that right-wing
    politics are part of right-wing philosophy."

    If it walks like a duck, ... . Yes, some folks do separate it. But not the
    leaders of the RR. I assume you would be as uncomfortable as I would be at
    Bob Jones "University." Or at a "700 Club" TV show.

    Maybe not.

    The fact is that W embraced the RR in the 2000 campaign, and the Republican
    party is darn glad (although a bit embarrassed) by their support.

    "One that you may have left out that I think is more prominent in
    conservative American evangelicalism (although not so much in more
    Reformed expressions of it) is a view that tobacco, alcohol and other
    recreational drug use even in moderation are forbidden by scripture."

    That was one that had not occurred to me. I think it would be a good
    addition to the list. Off line one LISTSERV member also suggested the line
    "Thinks evolution is a scheme sponsored by Satan."

    All the lines were "inspired" by a short essay in the magazine CHRISTIANITY
    TODAY (9/9/02 page 7). It cites a study by Penning and Smidt (Calvin College
    profs) and (apparently) a similar survey of CT readers which attempted to
    measure how "traditional" people were. Younger people were measurably more
    conservative than older ones. They also have a higher tolerance (funny term)
    for doctrinal controversy, and want to know all sides of a discussion.

    Coupling this essay with my recent reading of FOR A CHRISTIAN AMERICA I
    began wondering what beliefs were being taught in traditional Xtianity. For
    me, "traditional Xtianity" and "fundamentalism" are closely related; I
    should have not combined them as I did, however, for doing so was
    politically incoherent to many.

    I am a member of the PCUSA, and I recognize that we admit much more
    variance on doctrinal matters and moral issues than your denomination;
    indeed, that's one reason you guys pulled out some years ago. What I am
    interested in evolved into just what positions might be taught by
    "traditional Xtianity" (which includes the PCUSA) as normative -- that is,
    one would not be tossed out for having a different opinion on these subjects
    but there would be a more-or-less denominational position on them. For
    instance, I have taught in my home church, which is fairly conservative, SS
    classes supporting variants of permissible partial birth abortion,
    homosexual behavior, and other contraversial subjects. Not every one agreed
    with some of my teachings; nobody (that I know of) was particularly upset at
    them, as I was not upset when the pro-life position was subsequently taught
    in a class. But I suspect that I would not be welcome at your church
    discussing the same issues.

    "Also, the groups that seem to be represented by your list would also
    tend to advocate dispensationalism and premillenial eschatology (the
    rapture, 7 year tribulation, the importance of modern day Israel in
    God's plan, etc.)--again, not part of my theology."

    Hmm. Not holding that these subjects have much credibility, I did not think
    of them.

    "I'd also suggest that you include as parts of your list the
    affirmations of the Apostles' and Nicene Creed, i.e basic Trinitarian
    theology, the vicarious, substitutionary, and propitiatory atonement,
    the necessity of the new birth, the abrogation of Old Testament civil
    and ceremonial laws, the necessity of Holy living and good works, the
    work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification and spiritual gifting (not
    necessarily with the charismatic flares), the importance of prayer,
    the practice of the Lord's Supper and baptism, the importance of the
    church (some kind of fellowship of believers), the importance of
    worship (praise, prayer, preaching, etc.), the reality and
    universality of sin (probably more if I took more time to think about

    Probably a good idea. The list I gave was very preliminary.

    "Here's my reaction to your list:"

    Since you gave yours (thank you), I'll add mine after yours:

    "1 Adam and Eve were actual people**********
    (almost certainly not -- unimportant issue)

    2 Those who never hear of Jesus in this life are lost.*******
    Probably (that's why we send out missionaries).
    Probably not. In any case, it is up to God, not me. Important issue.

    3 Those who hear of Jesus and reject him are lost.********
    Maybe. "Hear of" has to be on a sliding scale, at least.

    4 Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. are lost********
    Possibly not. See the recent PCUSA position statement on this.

    5 All lost people will suffer endless punishment*******
    No. Such a teaching is incoherent and makes God out to be a bully.

    6 Homosexual acts are always sinful.***********
    Often sinful, or even "usually sinful" I will agree with. But in cases where
    the two people are in a long term loving adult same-gender relationship, and
    I know several couples, both male & female of this kind, I do not see it as
    sin, and I quite firmly assert that scripture does not condemn it.

    I have been reading a book, COUNSELLING LESBIAN COUPLES, by Joretta
    Marshall, which begins to unfold more the possible ways of viewing this. In
    between the "It is unnatural and evil" and "it is natural and we ought to
    celebrate it" positions are three intermediate positions -- I seem to be
    somewhere in there.

    7 Abortion at any stage of pregnancy and for any reason is always murder***
    I must say "no" in cases of rape, incest, and serious threats to the health
    of the pregnant one. Otherwise, I agree. That does not mean I favor the
    overthrow of Roe v Wade; I do not.

    8 Only males should be ordained as ministers, elders, bishops or deacons.
    ministers,elders, bishops--yes, deacons--no
    In the early church, women were ordained as priests, bishops, etc. When the
    church became a political force, it picked up the patriarchial society of
    Rome and for the next 1800 years women were considered 2nd class citizens. I
    raised four girls to challenge that position; I am happy to report that all
    have done so quite well. I raised four boys to support them in this -- well
    -- three out of four ain't bad. As I have mentioned, my wife of 44 years is
    now only eight months away from the MDiv degree and has the goal of becoming
    a PCUSA minister of Word & Sacament. In the PCUSA we have no 2nd class

    9 Jesus second coming will happen***********

    10 Believers will be resurrected with new bodies********

    11 Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation********

    12 It is not sinful to be a Democrat, but it is close to it.*******
    Obviously, I do not hold to this. But many do.

    13 It is always sinful to have a female lead in a worship service*******

    14 Republicans follow God more closely than Democrats*******
    Same answer as above

    15 Salvation means the attainment of heaven after death***
    Yes (among other things)
    I agree. The word itself comes from a Greek word "wholeness"

    16 There are only two possibilities after death, eternal bliss or
    endless punishment*****

    17 Jesus Christ is both human and divine********

    18 Government welfare is not fair to those who have been sober and
    Same answer as the last TICIH. Maybe I see this crap more out here in
    Colorado, a very "redneck" state, than you do.

    19 Jesus had a physical body after his resurrection**********
    I'm not sure. probably. But I think it was quite different than our physical

    20 Satan is a real entity********
    almost certainly not.

    21 Jesus does not approve of gun control laws********
    See previous

    22 Jesus does approve of the government mandating public school
    See previous answers. I see this, too, all the time.

    23 Divorce is always sinful***********

    24 The flood really happened*************
    Possibly so. Unimportant issue.

    25 Jonah is literal history***********
    almost certainly not, although there may be some contact points with literal

    26 Job is literal history***********
    It is really hard for me to understand how anyone could hold that position.

    27 The original manuscripts of the Bible are inerrant*****
    yes (with the word inerrant properly defined)
    no. But in any case, such a position is incoherent.

    28 What we have today is quite close to the original manuscripts*******

    29 The earth was formed in its present state less than 10,000 years

    Nice to end on an agreement!

    Best regards,


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